My dear friend Tamara, writer of the terrific blog, This Sacramental Life asked me tonight how Day 1 of Daddy’s-week-long-absence-fun-times is going. To start, we woke up at 5:30 am and threw Lucy in the car at 6:00 am to get Pete to the airport on time. If Lucy were a sullen teenager, she would recognize this time as a golden opportunity to ignore one’s parents and sleep in the dark backseat. Instead, she is a constantly curious toddler and these times provide a seat-belted and captive audience for comments about kitties, strange noises, the size (BIG!) of passing semi-trucks and trailers and for the counting of streetlights. Note that she can only count to eight, and it’s really only seven because she never remembers poor number five. So, she didn’t sleep enough. Never a good way to start a kid’s day.
The rest of the day was easy enough, but I knew that dinner and bedtime would present the most significant challenges. Don’t they always, anyway? So, we managed a grocery shop, after which I got super creative and whipped up an Annie’s Mac & Cheese and frozen pea feast of toddler champions for the girl, and sat her down across from me with a block of cheese and a grater to pile on the cheddar as she ate. It’s not an exaggeration to say that she may have eaten one or two slivers of cheese and a single pea. I ate the rest of that magnificent meal alone while she ran around feeding her stuffed animals invisible food. Steak tartare, perhaps? Oh, I forgot that later she did also eat part of a bath crayon that had been floating in the tub, so I guess that counts for something?
Be warned, I’m going to get a little more serious from here on out.
Once I put Lucy down for bedtime, she did not want to be left alone. This isn’t that uncommon, she usually has a little sniffle, whine or squeal before passing out. So it went tonight, but then, for some reason, 10 minutes after I’d closed the door, she was verging on hysterical. Not like her at all. Something felt wrong, so I went back to her room. She was standing, with tears running down her red-hot face, screaming for me.
What to do? I didn’t know. I just started praying. Pete and I have talked to Lucy about Jesus and every night we sing the Doxology over Lucy. I’ve always felt like there was power in doing these things, but I especially sensed the need for it tonight. As soon as I began to pray, she quieted. She stood for a moment and then sat down, clutching her blankie, just listening to me talk to Jesus. She was so still and calm, it actually shocked me. Then I heard a familiar refrain drifting in from the hallway. My Pandora station for Lu’s bed time is “Heavenly Lullabies” or something cheesy like that. Well, this wasn’t Brahms or Beethoven for babies, it was good, old “Silent Night”.
No, it’s not Christmas. Yes, it’s early for a carol, but that’s exactly why it was so perfect. “Silent Night” has always been one of my favourite (yes, I’m still Canadian) carols. Partly because it’s the one we usually end Christmas Eve services with; our hundreds of candle flames flickering under the gentle breath of believers and those who want to believe, and partly because it is such a sweetly simple song about the Saviour’s birth. I’ve heard people crack jokes about how silly it is that we should sing a song about silence in reference to the coming of God’s son, as a human infant, to a human mother labouring without anesthesia, a baby certainly fragile, possibly struggling to nurse and most likely crying. I get that the song may seem, to our 21st century ears, to be projecting a false image of perfection on that night. I get all of this and it doesn’t change what happened for Lucy tonight.
As I sang along, and then repeated the song again, it sounded perfect to me. The song is speaking about the peace that only God can impart, and that maybe, only children can accept so quickly and without question. A peace that transcends anything I can offer, even as a mother, to my fearful child. A peace that so powerfully meets us in our confusion and lack of understanding. A peace that causes us, like Lucy, to quiet, sit down, rest in it and finally, to sleep in total safety and reassurance.
“Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.”